Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ledisi - Diva in Training

Ella Fitzgerald. Sarah Vaughan. Nina Simone. I could listen to them all day, every day. Talk about true divas. You would be hard pressed to find a female vocalist today that lives up to that crowd. Ledisi would like to change that. Haven't heard of her? Neither had I until I spun a copy of her latest album, her third, titled Lost & Found. Considering the fact that she had been releasing her previous work on her own label, that's hardly a surprise, but with jazz giant Verve Records signing her, her underground status is sure to change. The album was nominated for a Grammy, and unlike the album it lost to: Chaka Khan's Funk This (a collection of re-workings of older songs), it's full of original material that spans the broad R&B spectrum.

It's got tracks that slow-cook (Joy and You and Me) , tracks that simmer (the opener Been Here and Best Friend - easily my favorite track on the album, listen below), and tracks that lightly touch on hip-hop (Think Of You). It's got a hint of that old-fashioned soul she's learned from those great vocalists before her blended with a contemporary urban R&B feel. In some ways the album reminds me of another vocalist's album I've really been enjoying and recently wrote about - Angie Stone's The Art Of Love & War (who coincidentally was also nominated for a Grammy for her song Baby and ALSO lost to Chaka Khan!, read my review here) - but whereas Angie draws upon a more heavily beat driven hip-hop influence, Ledisi feels a little more focused on the smoother groove.

And speaking of Ella Fitzgerald, check out the video below of Ledisi performing on a PBS tribute special to Ella. In it, Ledisi performs a cover of Ella's song Blues in the Night.

I've really been enjoying this album for the last few weeks and have found myself coming back to it over and over again. If you have a single R&B bone on your body, please do yourself a favor and check this album out.

Visit her website, her label Verve Records, and become her friend on MySpace.


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